Susceptibility of raccoon dogs for experimental SARS-CoV-2 infection : [Preprint]
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) emerged in China at the end of 2019, and became pandemic. The zoonotic virus most likely originated from bats, but definite intermediate hosts have not yet been identified. Raccoon dogs (Nyctereutes procyonoides) are kept for fur production, in particular in China, and were suspected as potential intermediate host for both SARS-CoV6 and SARS-CoV2. Here we demonstrate susceptibility of raccoon dogs for SARS-CoV-2 infection after intranasal inoculation and transmission to direct contact animals. Rapid, high level virus shedding, in combination with minor clinical signs and pathohistological changes, seroconversion and absence of viral adaptation highlight the role of raccoon dogs as a potential intermediate host. The results are highly relevant for control strategies and emphasize the risk that raccoon dogs may represent a potential SARS-CoV-2 reservoir. Our results support the establishment of adequate surveillance and risk mitigation strategies for kept and wild raccoon dogs.